Tracy Arm, a classic fjord, has it all- tidewater and elevated glaciers, breathtaking mountains and sheer rock walls that reach up over a mile high with waterfalls that tumble down to the emerald green water, and Alaska’s largest icebergs.
Located about 45 miles south of Juneau, Tracy Arm, a classic fjord, stands out as a “must see” for any Alaska vacation. Full day cruises depart from downtown Juneau and includes Alaska’s greatest combination of mountains, waterfalls, wildlife, glaciers, and icebergs.
The face of Sawyer is a little more than a half mile wide, so there is plenty of space for the vessel to be at the face of the glacier. The boat’s engine gets turned off at the glacier so you can listen to the ice crackle and pop and take in the sights uninterrupted while you wait for the glacier to calve.
Sawyer Glacier is an active tidewater glacier, which means it “calves” or breaks off. Pieces of ice anywhere from the size of a small car to a cruise ship fall off the face of the glacier and hit the water with a thunderous roar. No matter how many times you visit Sawyer Glacier, it is always a thrill to see a calving event.
The water at the end of the fjord is nearly 600 feet deep and when underwater calving takes place, the ice remains intact, giving us Alaska’s largest icebergs. In other glacier areas, the calved ice generally crumbles. Underwater calvings surface like giant submarines that rise over 250 feet and then settle into the water like large, blue ships.
The ice in Tracy Arm interferes with the sonar of killer whales, so it is the perfect place for hundreds of harbor seals to have their pups in the summer months.
The icebergs are framed by sheer mountain peaks that reach over 7,000 feet. Waterfalls flow from the ice-covered mountains to the jade colored inland sea.
The main focus of the cruise is the fjord and the glacier, and the wildlife is an added bonus. The guides will do their best to find you mountain goats, whales, bears, harbor seals, and birds.
Tracy Arm is the summer home for pigeon guillemots, kittiwakes and arctic terns. Mountain goats are typically seen on the rocky slopes near Sawyer Glacier. Mountain goats are more likely to come farther down the mountain on cloudier days. Stephens Pass and Holkham Bay are the best places to spot eagles, bears, and whales. Whales are seen on about 85% of our trips.